AFRICA/ RD CONGO - Fresh attacks on Catholic church property in Kasai; Pope Francis says “pray for peace in DR Congo”

Monday, 3 April 2017 violence   armed groups   pope francis  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides)- Fresh attacks on Catholic church buildings are reported from the Kasai region of the democratic republic of Congo ravaged by fighting between army troops and followers of traditional chief Kamuina Nsapu.
On 31 March militiamen attacked the town of Luebo, sacking several buildings including some belonging to the local Catholic church. “Militiamen sacked and torched the Bishop’s House and offices , offices connected with Catholic schools, homes for novices and premises for formation, they also desecrated St John’s Cathedral. Then they went on to Lunkelu where they sacked the propaedeutic seminary which trains priests” said Rev. Charles Mukubayi, head of Luebo diocesan Caritas.
Rev Mukubayi also said that “the priests had to flee to the forest for safety. They risk being killed if they come out”.
Other buildings sacked and burned included the town’s prison and Courts of Justice as well as local offices of NGOs.
In February several church buildings attacked in various parts of Kasai, included the Malole Major Seminary in Kananga (see Fides 21/2/2017 and 24/2/2017).
Yesterday Sunday 2 April, in his Angelus address Pope Francis had this to say about the dramatic situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: “We continue to receive news of bloodshed in armed fighting in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with casualties and evacuation involving church members and properties: churches, hospitals, schools... I assure that nation of my closeness and urge everyone to pray for peace, and pray that the hearts of the perpetrators of these crimes may be freed of the slavery of hatred and violence, because hatred and violence always lead to destruction ”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 3/4/2017)